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The next time a woman needs bragging rights around a group of men, she should bring up the empirical evidence that her gender is comprised of statistically better drivers than their peers.

This is just one of several insights that LexisNexis’ UK-based Wunelli has gathered after recording and analyzing over 1 billion miles of data on driving behaviors.

Wunelli’s data is particularly impressive when considering much of it was gathered by smartphones, including iPhone and Android devices.  While designing a user-friendly telematics app is relatively painless, the “back end” technological infrastructure proved to be a challenge.

“One of the things that’s really difficult when you’re doing hard install black boxes, we inspect them so they’re all exactly the same.  But the phones are all very different, especially the Android handsets.  They use different chips, they have different GPS modules, and are configured differently,” said David Lukens, LexisNexis director of vertical marketing. “So when you’re ingesting data from all these different phones, you need to do a lot of filtering to make sure the end result is identical, regardless of the handset that’s generating the data.”

In fact, Lukens notes that about 80% of the effort put into the company’s telematics smartphone technology happened “behind the scenes,” since they wanted to ensure that it captured accurate and reliable information.

Omega Research and Development Technologies, Inc. is proud to announce a newly redesigned corporate website,www.caralarm.com. The all-new website is designed to be accessible from any web-enabled mobile device or tablet and focuses on the ability to access product information more easily than ever before!

The full release is attached above.

For information on becoming an Omega Dealer in the US, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information on Omega’s vehicle security, keyless entry and remote start product lines, please visit www.CarAlarm.comwww.OmegaWeblink.com, and www.OmegaCarlink.com.

Forbes -- Small businesses feel at a disadvantage when it comes to creating an effortless social media and PR plan that engages with a target audience and has an actual ROI. It’s a daunting task, and most small businesses end up throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Trust me, it ain’t pretty.

However, it can be done with some simple best practices and some strategic planning. Here are some ways small businesses can automate social media and public relations:

Step 1: Audience

Think about your target audience very carefully and who you want to target for the next three months. Be incredibly specific on the segment you want to target: CMOs at medium sized companies in the fashion industry. Or: Stay at home moms who home school.

Step 2: Listen

If you know your target segments you should be somewhat aware of what’s going in their life. Know what problems their facing, what goals they want to achieve, what a day in the life of your audience is. Listening to what they are going through and empathetically understanding their needs is a must.

Source: weberstateprssa.com

Step 3: Brainstorm

 
Read the rest of the story HERE

The Auto Care Association applauds the settlement announced this week by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against the MINI Division of BMW violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. As a result of official complaints to the FTC by the Auto Care Association and other organizations, the FTC has charged that BMW’s MINI Division violated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act by telling consumers that BMW would void their warranty unless they used MINI parts and MINI dealers to perform maintenance and repair work.   

“It’s against the law for a dealer to refuse to honor a warranty just because someone else did maintenance or repairs on the car. As a result of this order, BMW will change its practices and give MINI owners information about their rights,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  

“Our government affairs department has worked diligently to bring this matter before the FTC and, while it’s been long overdue, we are thrilled to see them finally take action against the clear-cut violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act perpetrated by BMW’s MINI Division,” said Kathleen Schmatz, president and CEO, Auto Care Association. “It is our hope that all vehicle manufacturers are now paying close attention to their communications with vehicle owners concerning their warranties.”  

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act contains a provision that prohibits companies from requiring that consumers – in order to maintain their warranties – use specific brands of parts or specified service centers, unless the part or service is provided to the consumer without charge.

Interested in getting free registration for the upcoming KnowledgeFest in Indianapolis? Then here are some questions to help you decide:

What are you doing to help your cause?

In the early 1990s the Internet was just becoming popular and a man with a vision left his job and home in New York to map out his course that would change consumer purchasing forever.

What did the man do after he moved away from New York?

There was a trade show for all “Book Store” owners and he drove himself for this four-day “INDEPENDENT TRADE SHOW” to learn how to become better at what he was planning on doing. Topics included “Selecting Opening Inventory” and “Inventory Management”. In the mean time, his associate was learning other aspects of the business to build one of the most successful teams in US history and with a threadbare budget.

Who was the man and what was the name of his business?

Before I answer you let me ask you this, between who the man is and what the man did to become successful, what’s most important? If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you'll achieve the same results.


- Tony Robbins

You see you have before an outstanding opportunity to do what the man I am talking about did!
 We have some of the best trainers in the field of car audio coming together to help you to learn to become better at what you are planning on doing!

We have people like Jason Kranitz, Micah Williams, Mike Bartells, Eric Carter, John Schwartz, Ken Ward, Harry Lichtman, Bryan Schmidt and of course yours truly. 
You have manufacturers wanting to invest their time and energy on how to make your facility better and more profitable, and yet you look for or make excuses not to go!

By the way, the man Tony Robbins is talking about above is Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com. 

Based on all the above info, you ask, "Del, what should we do?" 
The answer is, I would beg, borrow or do whatever it takes to get yourself and your staff underneath the teaching of these great leaders in our independent industry which we all love so much and come learn the secrets like Jeff Bezos learned in the early 1990s.

Now, as promised, here's what you do to get your FREE registration: 

1. Go to http://bit.ly/KF4Free.

 2. Fill in your contact information. Be sure to enter your title under 'Registrant Title.' 

3. Under 'Exhibitor Name,' select the vendor you're most excited to see at KnowledgeFest Spring Training. 

4. Under 'Registration Classification,' select 'I am a VIP retailer invited by an exhibitor.' 
 5. Click Registration Confirmation and that's it! You'll receive a confirmation in your email.

We look forward to helping you in Indianapolis at our own Independent Trade Show on April 11th-13th 2015.

Fox Business -- Small-business tax rule No. 1: Don't mess with the IRS.

But that doesn't mean you should cheat yourself. Take every legal deduction you can. Here are a dozen that even savvy small-business owners and entrepreneurs sometimes forget.

1. Home office

Concerned that claiming a home office deduction is tantamount to sending an engraved invitation to an IRS auditor? Don't be, says Jan Zobel, author of "Minding Her Own Business: The Self-Employed Woman's Guide to Taxes and Recordkeeping."

The deductible dozen

  1. Home office
  2. Office supplies
  3. Furniture
  4. Other equipment
  5. Software and subscriptions
  6. Mileage
  7. Travel, meals, entertainment and gifts
  8. Insurance premiums
  9. Retirement contribution
  10. Social Security
  11. Telephone charges
  12. Child labor

"I don't agree that chances of getting audited are greater with a home office deduction," says Zobel, a San Francisco Bay-area tax expert who specializes in serving the self-employed. The key is that you use the term "home office" the same way the IRS does. The tax agency says it must be a space devoted to your business and absolutely nothing else. Deducting the den that houses the family computer and serves as a guest bedroom won't fly with Uncle Sam.

"If you only have one computer and you have a child over 4, the IRS is going to be pretty certain that the child is using the computer," says Zobel. "And the burden of proof is on you."

The deduction, however, isn't limited to a full room. Your home office can be part of a room. Just how much of the space is deductible? Measure your work area and divide by the square footage of your home. That percentage is the fraction of your home-related business expenses -- rent, mortgage, insurance, electricity, etc. -- that you can claim.

There's also a newer way to claim a home office deduction. Read "Use newer, simplified home office deduction" for details.

2. Office supplies

Even if you don't take the home office deduction, you can deduct the business supplies you buy. Hang on to those receipts, because these expenditures will offset your taxable business income.

3. Furniture

When your office supplies are more than just pens and paper, you have another tax-cutting opportunity.

Office-furniture acquisitions provide a couple of choices. Deduct 100 percent of the cost in the year of the purchase or deduct a portion of the expense over seven years, also known as depreciation.

To take the whole cost in one tax year, you'll use the Section 179 deduction (named for the part of the tax code where the law appears). Recent tax-law changes have made this deduction even more attractive. H.R. 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, which was signed into law Dec. 19, 2014, retroactively reinstated the $500,000 deduction limit for Section 179. (That law also included the expired package of tax extenders.) However, unless Congress acts again, the Section 179 limit for 2015 will be just $25,000.

If you choose instead to depreciate the desks and filing cabinets, you can't simply split the cost into equal portions over the depreciation period. Instead, you must use an IRS chart to make separate calculations each year.

Which is better for you? Anticipate the times that your business will need these deductions the most. Both options are reported on IRS Form 4562.

4. Other equipment

Items such as computers, copiers, fax machines and scanners also are tax-deductible. As with furniture, you can take 100 percent upfront or depreciate (this time over five years).

5. Software and subscriptions

The increased Section 179 provides another tax break in this area of business expenses. Previously, a company had to depreciate the cost of computer software over three years. Now, off-the-shelf software a business buys can be fully expensed in the year purchased. Again, this option must be renewed for the 2015 tax year and beyond.

The rules for deducting business and industry-related magazine subscriptions weren't changed. You can continue to take the total costs as a full deduction in the year spent.

Mobile ID World -- Ford Motor Company has announced that it is using advanced technology to design its vehicle interiors, including eye-tracking and other biometric technologies. Such an approach was taken with the recently revamped Ford GT interior, and will be taken beyond the automotive world in Ford-designed musical instruments, games, and even a racing sailboat, which will be displayed at the upcoming Salone del Mobile even in Milan.

According to the company, the guiding principles underlying the Ford GT’s interior redesign include Clarity of Intent, Innovation, and Connection. Those principles led to a design that concentrated in-car technologies into clearly organized islands in an ergonomic setup; a lean and lightweight instrument panel; and a tactility logic organizing technological areas as hard surfaces and touchable areas as soft.

Read the rest of the story HERE

23 Mar

March Madness and the Pyramid of Success

Monday, 23 March 2015

Given the popularity of college basketball and its annual tournament known as “March Madness,” I thought it appropriate to discuss the concept of a tournament and its affect on the human psyche. But first, here’s a seemingly unrelated book reference:

I recently finished reading the second book in a series called “The Reckoners”. The first book in the series, “Steelheart,” follows a group of freedom fighters attempting to rid the world of super-powered overlords and the book’s namesake antagonist, a Superman-esque villain that is impervious to all weapons. These powerful beings, called Epics, once mere ordinary people,  were corrupted when a powerful atmospheric event turned them into Epics. But due to their powers, every one of them was corrupted. As they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I know what you’re thinking. What the hell does any of this have to do with “March Madness?” Good question.

Legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, was known for many things. He was the first person in history to be named to the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and coach. He was given the nickname, “Wizard of Westwood,” an appropriate title given his record of winning 10 NCAA titles during his last 12 seasons, with seven of the 10 coming in consecutive years. He was also incredibly humble, making no more than $35,000 a year—$151,918 in today’s dollars—and never asking for a raise.

Despite all of those accolades, Wooden is perhaps best known for his inspirational wisdom, stemming from his Pyramid of Success model. The model was aimed at giving players the tools to be successful in both basketball and life, inspiring players like Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—both former UCLA players—to become future NBA greats.

There’s a point to all of this, I promise.

As you can see in the attached image, the pyramid is built with a list of carefully selected elements, consisting of virtues like loyalty, cooperation, initiative, self-control and team spirit, among others. These virtues all add up to the top section of the pyramid: competitive greatness.

For the 12-volt entrepreneur, this concept should be familiar considering that to be successful in any endeavor, one must be well-prepared to best the competition, or at least put up a good fight. Perhaps the biggest part of being accomplished is how to deal with success without it going to your head. In his book, “Wooden on Leadership,” Wooden said, “You must monitor confidence because it can easily turn into arrogance which then can lead to the mistaken and destructive belief that previous achievement will be repeated without the same hard effort that brought it about in the first place.”

This leads me to “The Reckoners” book reference from earlier. It’s easy to let success go to your head. You can have the appearance of success by gaining fame, professional respect and money, but that doesn’t mean you are achieving it in the best way possible to gain inner peace and self-respect. If you sacrifice any of the elements that make up the pyramid in exchange for the easy way, you will lose sight of yourself as a person and become a self-absorbed, arrogant bore on his way to “the bench.”

Much like the playoff brackets in the NCAA “March Madness” tournament, the pyramid requires patience and determination so that all steps are executed properly. It’s like building a sound system in an RV; it’s a large endeavor that requires planning, long hours and lots of equipment placed carefully in the vehicle. If any step is skipped, the whole thing could be a colossal waste of time and require even more hours to fix all of the errors. 

More often than not the teams that win the championships in basketball are those that follow the pyramid, or any other healthy leadership paradigm from their coach. Those that fail are like “Steelheart”; they take their natural, genetic talent and squander it without tapping into their true potential. If you don’t believe me, just read the words of the man himself:

“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

Airbiquity, a global leader in connected car services, has announced episode one of a four-part webinar series revealing new research on how consumers use connected car services. Andrew Hart, Director at SBD, will join Scott Frank, Airbiquity Vice President of Marketing, to highlight the industry's largest consumer adoption challenges and discuss how the automotive market can evolve to capture the desired customer satisfaction and business results.

"What's Standing Between Your Organization and a Successful Connected Car Services Program?"

When: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 2:00pm EST / 11:00am PST

What: Since the introduction of connected car services, the automotive industry has faced significant challenges—both technically and organizationally—for engaging consumers in connected cars. During this webinar, SBD and Airbiquity will present several connected car service case studies and new research insights to increase understanding about the issues impacting consumer adoption rates of connected car services, and how the industry can collectively overcome them.

Who: Episode one will feature:

• Andrew Hart, Director, SBD – Andrew is responsible for setting the direction of SBD's research efforts and communicating key findings to customers and the broader industry. Prior to his current position, Andrew served SBD as a Project Engineer, Senior Specialist, and Head of the Advanced Research Division. He joined SBD in 2005.

• Scott Frank, Vice President of Marketing, Airbiquity – Scott is responsible for Airbiquity's marketing initiatives including brand management, product marketing, demand generation, analyst and press relations, and sales enablement. He is a seasoned marketing professional with expertise in developing and managing global and regional marketing programs for large enterprise, medium, and small size companies.

Where: To register, visit: What's Standing Between Your Organization and a Successful Connected Car Services Program Episode two of the four-part webinar series will be held in June 2015.

Omega Research and Development Technologies, Inc. recently updated OmegaCarLink.com with a new look. The new website now has all of the information you would need for the CarLink-3G and the new INTL CarLink-SMS including links to all the available apps and utilities.  Also installation and operation instructions are now available for download. 

The new http://omegacarlink.com/ website is easy to use and is mobile compatible.

For information on becoming an Omega Dealer in the US, email us at //936A4370-33CB-4114-A781-1BD42BDE1E75/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Local%20Settings/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Local%20Settings/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.Outlook/Local%20Settings/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Local%20Settings/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.Outlook/HAYBZWL5/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." style="color:purple;text-decoration:underline">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

09 Feb

5 Business Myths That Used To Be True

Monday, 09 February 2015

Entrepreneur -- Technology is changing the business world and unlike previous years, we now have three generations working side by side with each other: the Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials.  As digital natives, Millennials understand and use technology in a way that has created a seismic shift in corporate America – and also how we conduct business.

Whether you are a seasoned executive or a young entrepreneur looking for business management advice, you need to know the new rules of the workplace.

Here are five commonly believed business lessons that are now myths:

1. You need to pay your dues.

Historically, new college graduates were tasked with chores like getting coffee for executives and sitting quietly in meetings for the sole purpose of taking notes. Now, with the rapid influx of new technology, young employees are a huge asset. Yes, someone still needs to handle keeping the spreadsheets up to date and preparing conference rooms for big meetings, but don’t overlook these new employees when it comes to idea sharing and out-of-the-box thinking. If they feel that their ideas are taken seriously, they’ll often surprise you with a fresh take on age-old issues and will be motivated to work harder and longer. Many young adults are already starting and running their own businesses; the idea that you can’t be successful without a few years of slaving away at dreadful tasks is no longer true.

Related: The Truth Behind 12 Common Startup Funding Myths

2. Don’t talk money.

The new workforce is not shy when it comes to sharing how much money they make and gender-equality issues are being brought up in the media more than ever. If you pay your employees fairly and explain why each benefit policy is in place, your workforce will have nothing to complain about. Make sure your company is an even playing field that rewards great work and is an open environment where employees feel comfortable chatting with HR.

3. There’s no place for social media at work.

Can you believe that some companies still block Facebook from their office computers? The new workforce is about trust; trust that employees will use Internet access responsibly and will only share what is appropriate in a work setting. In fact, there are many benefits to having social media in the office. For example, encouraging employees to share company successes over social media is great for brand management and recruiting. Social networks are also excellent for professional networking.

Read more here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242673 

Entrepreneur -- If you Google “daily habits of successful people” you’ll find almost every business-focused media outlet represented in the results. But if you’re looking for a guaranteed roadmap to success, don’t get excited just yet. If you read all of those articles, or even a few of them, you'll soon realize that successful people have a wide range of daily habits.

Some say you have to rise early, some sleep until noon then work from their bed for another hour. Some say to get the toughest thing out of the way first, some start their day in an easy flow of reading over coffee and don’t “eat the frog” until later. Some plan out their day the night before, some start their day by devising a plan. Some hit the jogging trail first thing, some barely take time for a stretch before hitting social media and email.

So how are any of us supposed to figure out which daily habits are critical to success, and which are personal preference and idiosyncrasy?

If you take a look at all the different lists of habits, routines, principles and priorities among successful entrepreneurs from Ben Franklin to Mark Cuban you’ll find these three universal success factors.

They spend time getting to know themselves.

If you know who they are, chances are they devote a lot of their daily practice to knowing themselves better than you can even imagine. Successful people are self-aware on multiple levels.

They know their energy patterns, so they know how much sleep is optimal. They know when they get their best rest they are at their best when they are awake. They know what fuel their body needs, and what kind of exercise it takes to feel the way they want to feel. They know what environments they need to be creative and productive, and they know the difference between those two states.

They know their priorities, too, and they know that all of their decisions must start with the highest level of their vision, mission or purpose. Benjamin Franklin’s documented daily schedule starts each day with a question; “What good shall I do this day?” Steve Jobs said in his commencement address at Stanford in 2005 that he spent 33 years asking the same question every morning; “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

Bottom line, no matter how many articles, interviews or opinions you read, you’ll find that successful people are always tuned in to the one most critical success factor in their business -- themselves.

They spend time improving themselves.

Speaking of being tuned in to themselves, successful people know that to increase their net worth they must increase their personal worth. They’ve mastered the personal SWOTT analysis and they consistently invest in themselves.

It’s no secret that successful people read. They read story books, they read how-to books, they read news, they read industry articles. They read to improve their knowledge, their mind-set, even their mood.

But they do more than read. Successful people study. They study trends in their industry and outside of their industry, they study things that interest them and, most of all, they study people.

Read more HERE.

14 Jan

Reporter's Notebook: 2015 International CES

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

After another innovation-fueled year, the 2015 International CES again proved why it's the place to be for tech geeks everywhere. What's more surprising these days is the firm foothold the show has in the automotive landscape. With the race for the connected car (and connected life for that matter) in full swing, both the OEMs and aftermarket are hustling to market any products they can to jump start their revenues in the medium. Aside from this, the show also featured a variety of impressive offerings from familiar companies looking to jumpstart their own interests for both consumers and retailers in 12-volt. Here are some highlights from this year's show:

- Kicker is releasing a line that is exclusive to 12-volt retailers, boxing out the big boxes and online sellers like Crutchfield, to show its support of independent retailers. The high-end Q-Class line will include the IQ-Series of intelligent power amplifiers and the top-end QS-Series component speakers, designed to fit into more factory hole locations than before. 

- VOXX Electronics has added a new line of in-car electronics to its already packed lineup of products with the Baby On Board child car seat sensor. The device requires a 5-minute install by the owner, and utilizes a Bluetooth proximity sensor that alerts the driver when they leave the car via a key fob beeper. The device will be available this summer for $59.95. 

- The connected car is officially in full play in the aftermarket as both Pioneer and Kenwood have introduced head units that feature Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility. Pioneer has released its second generation NEX in-dash receivers, which all include CarPlay, while three models include Android Auto. Kenwood has introduced a successor to its DNN991HD connected receiver, which now includes updated mapping software by Garmin™, parking guides for a connected rear-view camera and better source multitasking.

- A trend to watch by several companies is the emergence of Bluetooth remote controls for powersports vehicles. MTX announced the MUDBTRC, designed to allow Bluetooth music streaming from most Bluetooth enabled devices directly to an amplifier, eliminating the need to install a source unit.

For more information on the products described above, and more detail on the latest from CES, check out our February issue of Mobile Electronics, coming next month. 

23 Oct

Chart Goals to Create Road Map to Success

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Entrepreneur -- Many people suffer from being rational dreamers. They want to achieve a big dream but hold themselves back by being risk averse. They don't want to disrupt the status quo and play things safe. 

To coax themselves out of their comfort zones, people learn to setgoals. I consider the process of goal setting to be like arranging checkpoints along the way to a desired end. Setting and meeting small goals can serve as a thermometer check on progress, measuring advancement and indicating an overall plan's viability.

Approach goal setting like creating a customized road map to chart your success. Think about when you take a really long road trip with your friends. Most often, you start off knowing the destination, but since road trips can be fairly long, making pit stops along the way is necessary.

Before venturing out, you might decide to stop a quarter of the way along for food, then at the halfway point for gas, at the two-thirds mark to stretch and perhaps 100 miles beyond that for more gas.  

You’re meeting smaller, more immediate goals that build on your efforts to reach the final destination.

Create a personalized road map for arriving at your desired destination by setting the following types of goals: immediate, intermediate and stretch goals. 

Related: Create a Personal Business Plan That You'll Really Use

1. Set a stretch goal.

Start by developing a stretch goals, a long-term objective that will take years to accomplish. Determine your stretch goal first because this choice will influence the selection of intermediate and immediate goals.

A stretch goal should be big. Some stretch goals are more specific than others. One person's specific goal might be “to become the CEO of Google.” Another individual's vaguer stretch goal would be “to produce a national television show.” An extremely vague goal would be “to work in the fashion industry.”

It's OK, though, to leave room for interpretation.

Be as specific as possible and allow yourself to adjust a goal. Once you establish a stretch goal, you can sketch out checkpoints along the way.

Read more here.

20 Oct

Editorial Correction

Monday, 20 October 2014

Editorial Correction: On page 34 of the September 2014 issue of Mobile Electronics, one of our writers wrote a comment about Compustar’s lack of contact availability to its customers. Compustar has responded by explaining that direct lines are not available on the website to better help them focus on their vendors and to supply the highest level of customer service. We apologize for the error and will do our best to avoid such wording in future issues.

In response, the company submitted a statement regarding its support for vendors:

“Compustar has launched an easy-to-use support terminal at support.compustar.com that gears towards answering the most basic and most advanced questions regarding our products. The support terminal also features a ticketing system that allows us to receive customer inquiries, even outside of office hours. 

Our toll-free number is (888) 820-3690 and is primarily reserved to supporting our retail and distribution partners. We pride ourselves on providing excellent installer support, and are more than willing to walk our installers through even the most complicated install jobs. 

Dealers who are interested in learning more about Compustar can call us at our Toll-Free number or e-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more about joining our award-winning team.”

14 May

Q&A: Andy Wehmeyer of Audiofrog

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Brand new car audio company, Audiofrog, is emerging at a time when big box stores and online sellers are slashing prices, in-turn making it more difficult for brick-and-mortar shops to compete. To explain the rationale for starting a new brand at this time, Andy Wehmeyer, president and CEO of this new high-end audio brand, sat down with Mobile Electronics for the June issue. Below is an excerpt from that interview:

ME: Tell us about the new brand. What inspired you to create it?

Wehmeyer: I spent the last 20 years working for a huge audio company. At the beginning, it was an absolute dream job. But after 20 years of getting a pretty good handle on the car audio business I saw an opportunity to do something that I don’t think anyone else is doing in a global kind of way.

There are global brands that are managing themselves in all of the markets like Harman, Pioneer, and JVC. While there are others, like Focal and Audison, they are primarily European-focused brands and they go to market in countries outside their home market exclusively through distributors. That can be a pretty good model if just moving product is your objective, but often that prevents dealers from getting proper training and receiving proper tech support. It can also lead to indiscriminate distribution, which destroys profitability for everyone.

What we’re after are the best specialty dealers in markets all over the world who are hungry for great-sounding products, straightforward tech support and involvement from the people who design and develop the products. It’s all about helpful support for specialists who cater to car lovers, car audio lovers, and enthusiasts everywhere.

Gary, Grizz and I have been in this business for almost 30 years. There’s a world full of installers who were exactly where we were 25-30 years ago. There will always be new guys who are learning their craft and we think there’s an opportunity to do premium business and give back some of what we were fortunate enough to learn from past industry veterans. There aren’t a lot of brands left who are providing great training. From my perspective, we’re the new industry vets. It’s our turn to be mentors and there’s a significant business opportunity out there.

ME: Why now? What makes this an ideal time or situation to bring a new brand to the marketplace?         

Wehmeyer: As a product guy, I was duped by financial managers into thinking I didn’t have the acumen to be a business manager. What I discovered later was that there’s a world full of financial managers that think managing a business is the same no matter who the customer is. What I now know is that this is absolutely not the case. The real value is in deep expertise and years of experience and contacts—that’s the stuff you can’t buy at business school.

An MBA is pretty important to get yourself in the door at a major corporation; if you want to be a business manager, that’s valuable. But in an enthusiast business like car audio, where people spend an inordinate amount of money on products they love, the real skill you need to be successful is a connection to the customer, experience in the market, and technical expertise with regard to products and their application. MBA-style management by spreadsheet is killing big brands as they focus on cutting services, making me-too products cheaper and battling for market share at the low end through price reductions in the big boxes and online. All of that is what made me decide this was the right time for us to do this, coupled with what I see as the two biggest markets in the world, Europe and the U.S., reverting back to what will have to be a focus on enthusiasts. 

ME: What is the product rollout map for the next year?

Wehmeyer: We’re going to launch a series of high-end speakers and subs at KnowledgeFest and another line shortly thereafter. We’ll also do amps and signal processing once the launch of the speakers is underway. All Audiofrog products are developed from the ground up and that takes time and money. There are many possibilities, but right now we’re focused on launching our speakers.

ME: Do you have a sales network in place?

Wehmeyer: No sales network in place yet. We’ve got some commitments from customers all over the world, pending samples and demos. There’s lots of interest.

ME: Are you going to sell through reps or distribution?

Wehmeyer: We’re going to sell direct in the US and through distributors in other markets. It’s really important to us that no matter the method by which we deliver product, that all dealers have access to the three of us for help and support. There won’t be any distributors in the US.

ME: What is the company's Internet sales policy?

Wehmeyer: We want to make sure people all over the country have a way to buy Audiofrog products. An online presence is an important part of that. There’s only going to be one online seller and they’ll provide high-end customer support that is also available by phone. We’re looking for the best partners and that’s no different when it comes to online business. 

**Be sure to check out the June issue of Mobile Electronics to read the rest of the interview.**

Today from 4pm to 5pm Eastern Standard Time, Solomon Daniels, Editor-in-Chief of Mobile Electronics magazine, will field your questions on participating in the 2014 Mobile Electronics Industry Awards on the Facebook Advisory Group. The page is located at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1457574061132022.

If you’re not a member, submit a request on the page and you will be accepted to participate in the discussion.

“This year we’ve had the help of dedicated industry professionals to make the process for our Industry Awards better, yet we know that participants will still have questions,” said Daniels. “The group meeting today is the best time to answer those questions, and the answers will be archived for others who visit later.”

The Top 50/100 nominations opens today. Visit http://bit.ly/MEAwardsOpen for rules, guidelines and submission requirements.

Submit your nomination video at https://www.hightail.com/u/2014IndustryAwards by May 19.

In Car Experts announced it has secured an agreement for Stillwater Designs of Stillwater, Okla., manufacturer of the KICKER brand, to join its ranks as a vendor member. The new partnership is the first since the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association (MERA) acquired In Car Experts in February, and it expands the number of product lines and programs available to In Car Experts retail members.

“We are very excited to have the originators of the KICKER brand as a partner with In Car Experts,” said Chris Cook, president of MERA. “Stillwater Designs has shown the ability to maintain its Unilateral Minimum Advertised Price (UMAP) policy across its brands and channels, thus protecting and retaining profit margins for its retailers. The company’s proven dedication to its retail core sets the stage for delivering high value to In Car Experts retail members.”

In Car Experts retail members will now receive benefits when selling the Kicker and SoundGate brands, which target entry level to enthusiast consumers who want premium quality audio reproduction. Product categories include amplifiers, speakers, signal processors, vehicle-specific enclosures and integration solutions, in addition to the fast-growing powersports and marine audio categories. Key retailer benefits include product and shipping discounts, demo unit programs and volume incentive rebates.

“Stillwater Designs is very interested in increasing the number of relationships it has with elite-level retailers in their respective markets,” stated Jeff Peters, director of domestic sales for Stillwater Designs. “In Car Experts delivers a best-in-market customer experience when presenting our brand.”

About In Car Experts
In Car Experts is a group of the nation’s best mobile electronics retailers supported by vendor partners who are committed to the success of the independent specialist. Working as a multimillion dollar collective, In Car Experts is able to provide members with proven national marketing and enhanced vendor programs that are only available when functioning as part of a larger group. For more information, call (877) 777-4ICE or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About Stillwater Designs
KICKER Performance Audio products, a division of Stillwater Designs and Audio, Inc.®, are available for the mobile and home audio aftermarket at authorized retailers worldwide, and also as original equipment for automobile manufacturers. For more information on KICKER or Livin’ Loud®, call (800) 256-5425 or visit the brand website at www.kicker.com. 

 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE TOP 50 RETAILERS AND TOP 100 INSTALLERS

CLICK HERE TO VOTE!

Hello All,

It’s Time! This is the official notification that the 2014 Industry Awards are underway.

This blog is intended to outline the process and rules for the awards, starting from selecting the Top 100 Installers and Top 50 Retailers, all the way to selecting the final winners. Those winners will be announced and celebrated at the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association (MERA) KnowledgeFest event in Dallas, August 16-19.

For those of you who don’t know, The Industry Awards recognize the top performers in our industry. At the retail level, we identify the Top 100 Installers and Top 50 Retailers. Each of these groups narrows down to the Top 12, and finally we select winners from this group. This year, we’ve made changes to the Retailer of the Year awards. There will be one winner and one runner-up award given in two categories: single store and chain. The Installer of the Year award remains unchanged.

And there are other awards as well. The Trusted Tech award goes to the individual installation expert who is not only an excellent troubleshooter and detail-oriented worker, but has also earned the recognition and respect of their peers. The Rep of the Year and Rep Firm of the Year recognize sales representatives who go beyond the transaction to provide support and encouragement to retailers. Distributor of the Year (new for 2014) and Expediter of the Year award the top performers in these sales channels. And our Vendor of the Year awards celebrate the hard-working staffs of our suppliers and manufacturers in several different categories.

Before we delve more into the details, I want to first thank the members of the Mobile Electronics Advisory Group for their time and valued input. My goal for the group was to streamline the rules and policies of the awards so that we can present a fair and transparent process to the industry. The guidelines you see below are the result of their dedication.

Good Luck to All!

Solomon Daniels, Editor-in-Chief

 

2014 Mobile Electronics Industry Awards – Rules and Guidelines

Retailer Qualifications:

A publicly accessible, licensed brick-and-mortar or mobile business that has a dedicated mobile electronics department with full sales, retail and installation support. The business must have been open for a minimum of two years, regardless of location. (Home-based business must meet the same criteria and be licensed by local municipality to operate a mobile electronics retail business in its location.)

Installer Qualifications:

Installation specialists with a minimum 5 years of experience under a licensed business (company or sole proprietor) who are gainfully employed as a professional installer. Installation must be their primary duty within the business.

 

Vendors, Expediters, Distributors, Reps and Rep Firm Awards

Qualifications:

A vendor, manufacturer's representative, distributor or expediter that produces, sells or supports products in the mobile electroncis industry.

Vendor Awards:

Expediter of the Year

Rep of the Year

Rep Firm of the Year

Distributor of the Year

Top Vendor - Vendor – Autosound / Video

Top Vendor – Security / Convenience / Safety

Top Vendor – Power / Installation Components

Top Vendor – Processing and Integration

 


 

June 3: Voting to Select the Top 12 Begins

Individuals who vote are divided into two categories:
Consumers / Enthusiasts – people who are customers, family members, friends or competitors and are NOT employees in the mobile electronics industry in a professional capacity.

Industry professionals – people who work for an industry manufacturer, supplier, distributor, affiliate company or a retail location.

Because this is primarily an industry award, the value of an industry vote will be higher than that of a consumer vote:

  • If a candidate gets fewer than 5 industry votes, the consumer votes do not count.
  • If a candidate gets 6 to 9 industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 1/5 of one industry vote each.
  • If a candidate gets 10 to 19 industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 1/4 of one industry vote each.
  • If a candidate gets 20 to 29 industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 1/3 of one industry vote each.
  • If a candidate gets 30 to 39 industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 1/2 of one industry vote each.
  • If a candidate gets 40 or more industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 3/4 of one industry vote each.
  • Each person may select one retailer and one installer. Voters must supply contact information for verification purposes, and IP addresses are monitored to reduce the possibility of fraudulent voting. (Multiple store employees may vote from the same computer / IP address.)

    June 20: LAST DAY to VOTE!


     

    August 18: All winners announced at KnowledgeFest

    Errors and omissions:
    If, throughout this process, we determine that there is an error or more detail / clarification is required, we will publicly announce the adjustment via Hotwire, our email newsletter. 

    02 May

    Moneyball and Positive Reinforcement

    Friday, 02 May 2014

    Since it’s both baseball season and a time when many retailers are hiring seasonal staff, I thought it would be a good moment to discuss an important topic. In a baseball club, much like any workplace, a certain balance must be maintained, not just for players to do their jobs and play to their full potential, but also for the players to get along with each other and with management.

    In the film Moneyball, Brad Pitt stars as real-life Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane, who in 2002 was tasked with getting a low-budget, hand-to-mouth ball club to compete with big-budget teams like the New York Yankees. To do this, he had to think outside the box financially and do something socially that he had never done in four previous seasons with the club: talk to his players.

    With all the hustle and bustle involved in running a retail shop, it’s understandable that an owner might be too busy to take a minute to get feedback from employees. Much like a baseball team, a staff requires the attention of management, but in an encouraging, rather than critical, way. A recent interview on Forbes.com with John Kotter, chief innovation officer at leadership strategy firm Kotter International, made clear that fear in the workplace acts like a “burning platform,” forcing employees to react. But that reaction style of management only works for so long, until employee energy and enthusiasm starts to wear out.  

    “The reality is there are real risks associated with this negative stuff. People may jump off the platform, but they get tired, or they break an arm, to play out that metaphor. What we’re finding is that psychologists are coming out and saying that the positive stuff will maintain motivation over time much stronger and better than the negative stuff,” Kotter said. “Sure, the negative can get you going. You see a bullet coming at you, boom! You’ll get off of your chair. But in terms of maintaining energy and motivation over a couple of years, somebody just running from bullets doesn’t work.”

    In Moneyball, tension in the clubhouse is visible when the team is losing. Players either keep to themselves and look at it as only a job, or they are unruly, joyfully dancing on tables to music, even after a loss.

    That tension seems to come from the lack of positive reinforcement from Beane, and from the fact that the only interactions the players have with him are in the form of yelling when they lose, or silence due to his absence from the clubhouse most of the time. To clarify, positive reinforcement is the act of presenting a pleasant stimulus to entice a person to repeat a desirable action.

    To the customer, it’s obvious when employees are unhappy. Energy levels are low, their mannerisms and speech patterns are less enthusiastic, and the work itself tends to suffer. Likewise, customers can tell when employees are happy.

    Aside from the standard monetary compensation and benefits like a 401K, medical and dental insurance, rewarding good behavior can be easy and inexpensive, according to an article by two professors at the Harvard Business Review.

    The article states that employees who strive to create a better future for themselves are, in their words, “thriving.” These employees aren’t just content in their jobs; they are proactive, engaged and highly energized. This type of employee was found to demonstrate a 16 percent better performance than their peers, and they were 32 percent more committed to the organization. They also missed considerably less work and had fewer doctor visits.

    Whatever your method, knowing the strengths and improvement areas of your staff is vital for gauging what they can and can’t do. When you do need them to push, remember to reinforce their hard work with a reward, whether it’s a verbal compliment, a high-five, a simple thank you, or a form of compensation.

    When Billy Beane finally discovered how useful interacting with his players was to their performance and overall happiness, he visited the clubhouse more often, spoke to individuals about specific improvements they could make, and formed strong working relationships with as many as he could. Doing this in your shop might just result in a metaphorical home run. 

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